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Calgunners in Service This forum is a place for our active duty and deployed members to share, request and have a bit of home where ever they are.

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  #1  
Old 01-30-2013, 7:38 AM
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Default Pilot Jobs in the Military

Figured this would be the best place to post this.

I am currently a freshman at a private university getting a degree in computer science and have recently been dabbling in the idea of flying for the military. Preferably helicopters or jet aircraft. However I literally have no idea where to start.

Ive been researching a little and found that it is a very rigorous position to apply for.

If you guys have any advice such as what branch of the military would be best and what you think I should do, then let me know!

-Thanks!
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Old 01-30-2013, 8:44 AM
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I met a young man recently whom was in airforce rotc.
He said while its tough to become a fighter pilot, the airforce does have a program where if you agree to fly drones for two years youll then have your pic of aircraft to fly thereafter.
Look into that.
Good luck

Last edited by jrock; 01-30-2013 at 6:05 PM..
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  #3  
Old 01-30-2013, 8:49 AM
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Typically flying fighters are in least demand as many, if not most, looking to fly in the military are looking to then transition to a civilian flying job, and that 4 engine jumbo transport chit is the most valuable.

The first question is, are you physically a perfect specimen? Eyesight 20/20+, no surgical hardware, no asthma, diabetes etc etc? Good trim body and high physical fitness?

If you're physically imperfect in some unfixable way, stop now.

Last edited by luvtolean; 01-30-2013 at 8:52 AM..
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Old 01-30-2013, 8:58 AM
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It is a very competitive thing to apply for, being any sort of pilot. I went to basic (Army) with a guy that came in on a WOCS packet to be a helicoptor pilot, so I know it can be done- just know that you get into this, you will be competing with people who have been preparing for it their entire adolescent and/or adult lives for the opportunity. I also had a friend in the Air Force who is a pilot, and even when his class graduated there were not enough aircraft to go around- so not only do you have to make it through, you have to stand out to get what you want.

I think it will depend mostly on what you want to fly. Jets, obviously you'll need to go AF or Navy. Helicoptors you can go Marines or Army. I know next to nothing about the Marine air wing, so you'll have to look elsewhere for that. With the army, we always need helicoptor pilots, but you may or may not get to fly a chopper you like, and even if you do it may not be a fun mission. Depends on what you want to get out of it.


I can tell you though, unless you really want this- don't bother. No offense, but if you're just "dabbling" with the idea, it'll probably be a waste of your and everyone else's time. That's just my opinion though- give it some thought. If you do decide this is what you want to do- good luck!
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Last edited by SGT Loco; 01-30-2013 at 9:00 AM..
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  #5  
Old 01-30-2013, 9:05 AM
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The reason I say dabbling is because I'm still unsure. I want to see what it will take to get there. And whether it's worth trying because of the stiff competition.

As far as physically, I'm in excellent condition, 20/20, no glasses, no health problems.
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Old 01-30-2013, 9:19 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Leadmaster View Post
The reason I say dabbling is because I'm still unsure. I want to see what it will take to get there. And whether it's worth trying because of the stiff competition.

As far as physically, I'm in excellent condition, 20/20, no glasses, no health problems.
The question of worth depends entirely on your motivation. How bad do you want to be a pilot? If the answer is that it's your childhood dream, how could it not be worth it?

To get there, you need to be in great shape, as mentioned. If you know your vision is clear, you may want to get a color test. For example, I have great vision- but I was shocked to find out that I'm actually colorblind in a very small, specific range (something to do with green on orange). The schools are difficult, and have high standards and high failure rates. And, like I mentioned, even if you pass the course you may not get to jump into a cockpit right away, and unless you're one of the top of your class, you're not necessarily going to get to choose your aircraft type.
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SFC Ryan Savard KIA 13 OCT 2012
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  #7  
Old 01-30-2013, 9:26 AM
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Leadmaster, I cannot remember not wanting to be a fighter pilot. I told my Mom I wanted to be a Mechanical Engineer before I started kindergarden because somehow I found out that's the best degree for pilots. (She had to go look up what an ME was lol) Along the way I did all the top math, I found out the .mil likes Eagle Scouts so I did that, I ran cross country, I wrestled, I played video games for eye hand coordination...

I unfortunately am not physically perfect.

If you're ready to compete with people who want it as bad as I did, go for it. Otherwise, unless you're a physical and intellectual freak, you're going to have a hard time competing with people like me who are willing to suffer any pain or sacrifice to get there.
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  #8  
Old 01-30-2013, 9:29 AM
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The Navy has the most pilots and aircraft, and we're in-need of pilots (Naval Aviators & NFOs)... I'm down at NASC in Pensacola right now.
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Old 01-30-2013, 9:30 AM
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I'm in excellent condition, 20/20, no glasses, no health problems.
That you know of. You will get physicals that no civilian can afford. Talk to recruiters, don't sign anything. You might get some phone numbers that steer you to real info.

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  #10  
Old 01-30-2013, 1:40 PM
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I am currently an Officer Candidate with a flight contract (already went to OCS and am waiting for my degree so I can commission later this year) with the Marine Corps. If you want a guarantee that you will fly, the Marine Corps is the only way to go. Find your nearest OSO and talk with a recruiter for more information.

I had a flight guarantee before and after OCS, and as long as I continue to have satisfactory performance, I know I will definitely be flying. No other branch offers this.

However, the Marine Corps is one of the hardest programs to get into due to its size. You need to be near the best academically and physically, and have to pass additional tests. I took the ASTB (Navy/USMC Flight aptitude test), and passed on my first try... however make sure you remember high school physics (that really hurt me!). I also have 20/15 vision, a 297 PFT, 93 ASVAB, and 3.3 GPA.

Feel free to ask if you have any questions about this route, and I will try to offer as much info as possible regarding the process I've experienced so far. But, I can't offer any actual job experience outside of OCS since I haven't been sent to flight school yet.

Last edited by Disturbed; 01-30-2013 at 1:58 PM..
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  #11  
Old 01-30-2013, 6:57 PM
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Default Marine Air Wing

I can't tell you about other branches, but the Marines have an extensive amount of aircraft. Well maybe not extensive, but it has quite a few of them. I was a AH-1W (Super Cobra) and UH-1N (Huey) mechanic. They also have a few more helicopters, F-18s, Harriers, Osprey, and possibly the new F-35s. The pilots that flew the Cobra were more fit than the pilots that flew the Huey. That's about as much info I have on pilots. But I can tell you more about the aircraft.
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Old 01-30-2013, 7:04 PM
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Brother did same thing about 15 years ago. Marines had an officer program where you did all the physicals etc beforehand and were guaranteed flight status. Talk to a marine recruiter as it mat still exist. I think marines were unique in this flight status guarantee.
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  #13  
Old 01-30-2013, 7:20 PM
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Go to your nearest airport and take a couple of flight lessons to see if this is really what you would like to do. As a flight instructor at aerobatic flight school I took many a military flight candidate for intro to unusual attitude flights who hoped that they would not barf on their military instructor after the first roll or spin. Most that keep in touch made the grade and where pilots in all four branches of the armed services. Most wanted to fly fighters but the one who ends up in C130 or KC135's are all flying for the airlines.$$$
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  #14  
Old 01-30-2013, 11:08 PM
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thanks for all the help guys, you have definitely given me a lot of new options to explore. I may contact some of you for more info later on.
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Old 01-31-2013, 6:56 AM
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When I was a recruiter before I put you on the phone with the O recruiter I would ask you.
1. Police involvement DUI /illegal possession
2. Medical issue are you taking meds at all
3. 3.0 GPA minimum at real university
Good luck
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  #16  
Old 01-31-2013, 6:59 AM
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The Army has a program called "Street to Seat" which replaced "High School to Flight School" but they're one and the same.

Basically anyone can join straight into the Army to become a Rotary Wing pilot flying helicopters from Kiowa's to Black Hawks, to Chinnooks. AH-64 Apache is extremely competitive but not impossible. The vast majority of Army helo pilots are Warrant Officers. Most join the Army as enlisted in any MOS because there's no feeder MOS required to be an Aviation Warrant. You can come from Infantry, Intel, Mechanics, or Supply to be a pilot. That route you have to reach the rank of at least E-5 to become a pilot. Other Warrant ranks have feeder MOS's like being an Intel soldier before becoming an Intel Warrant. The bulk though join the Army as helo mechanics or become Crew Chiefs (pilots fly, crew chiefs are in charge of things that happen in the helo) then through their aviation units get recommended by the pilots who are Warrants to become pilots. It's an easy shoe in because Crew chiefs and mechanics understand a lot about the helicopters they will learn to fly, more so than Warrants who fly them most of the time.

With Street to Seat there's no feeder requirement, just go to Basic Training for 9.5 weeks then straight to Warrant Officer Candidate School at Fort Rucker, AL, where the Army's Flight School is. After finishing WOCS, you have to go to Survival, Escape, Resist, Evasion (SERE) course where they subject you to what it's like being an Enemy Prisoner of War. It involves being confined, psychologically tested, and also being thrown into the woods to escape and evade your captors. All pilots need to pass this course before going to pre-flight training. Afterwards it'll be about 2-3 years before flight school is done and everyone will be CW2 rank by then and sent to their units (Active, Reserve, or Guard).

You can go Aviation in the Army as an ROTC cadet or West Point but flight school comes after being commissioned. Not to mention getting into Aviation as a commissioned Officer is very competitive and if you don't get it, your second or third choices are picked which could be anything (Infantry, Military Police, Intel, Artillery, Engineer, Supply, etc, etc). However Commissioned Officer pilots are rare and most stop flying after making Major and move on to either a different Branch or get limited flight time as the aviation unit's commander. Warrants will fly helos until the die or retire.

Air Force and Navy Aviation all require you to do their ROTC or respective Service Academies.
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Old 02-03-2013, 4:18 PM
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A great website to get information on aviation in the Navy or Marines is http://www.airwarriors.com. I learned a lot there and it helped me with my application. As far as Navy goes, there are programs where you can be guaranteed a spot in flight school straight out of college but I don't really know about them since that wasn't the path I took to become a pilot. Before getting to flight school I wanted to be a jet pilot, but then saw the light and asked for rotary wing. Even as a helo pilot you will get some fixed wing ratings and can go fly commercially for any airline you want. If you want some more info or any specifics just pm me.
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Old 02-09-2013, 2:21 PM
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My totally biased advise would be looking into the United States Naval Academy. Service commitment for Marine Air was just reduced to 6 years compared to 8 years Naval Aviators need to serve after winging.

The downside for you is that you'd have to apply for next year and you'd have to start college all over again as a freshman (plebe).
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Old 02-09-2013, 2:23 PM
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At this time 80% of applicants passed their Rated boards.....


Or so says my OTS recruiter for the Air Force.
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Old 02-09-2013, 5:42 PM
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Go flying first. See if you like it. Some who think they want to be a pilot do this but then find they don't like flying.

Also, if you are not good at skill sports and other hand/eye/dexterity/coordination activities . . may be an indicator of where you will stand vs. other competitors.

Don't doubt yourself. Create your own opportunity, focus, and make it happen. Even if it means going back and studying physucks in the library when your buddies are all out having fun at the range.
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Old 02-10-2013, 8:40 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Leadmaster View Post
The reason I say dabbling is because I'm still unsure. I want to see what it will take to get there. And whether it's worth trying because of the stiff competition.

As far as physically, I'm in excellent condition, 20/20, no glasses, no health problems.
Simple actually.....go see a recruiter, do your ASVAB and see if you can even score high enough to be a pilot, then start the physical process...I tell kids all the time, you might wanna be a rocket scientist but unless you pass the test you ain't goin no where.
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Old 02-10-2013, 1:04 PM
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Talk to an Officer Selection Officer, not a recruiter.
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Old 02-12-2013, 12:09 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Leadmaster View Post
Preferably helicopters or jet aircraft. However I literally have no idea where to start.
If you want to fly fighters, AF or Navy.

If you want to fly helicopters, Army or Marine Corps.

Yes, I know that it's technically true you can fly any of them in any of the services (even the Army has jet aircraft, just not combat jets)... but I'm speaking of teh relative importance of the aircraft to the service. They fight over most helicopter slots in the Army. In the Navy & AF helicopters are the leftovers.

Army even has a "high-school to flight-school" program that lets you enlist and attend WOCS then flight school without a college degree. You know if you're accepted BEFORE you enlist, so if you don't make it you don't have to go in.

I had a HS friend who tried for pilot in the AF. Did AFROTC, paid for private flying lessons, still washed out of flight training. He's a personnel officer right now. He's made Major, had a good career, but not quite what he wanted.

With the Army program you at least don't waste quite as much time if it doesn't work out.
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Last edited by tanksoldier; 02-12-2013 at 12:12 AM..
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Old 02-12-2013, 6:58 PM
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Wow...quite a bit of misinformation on this thread :-\

I suggest checking out www.airwarriors.com. It's mostly about the Navy and Marines, but there is a ton of great gouge on there. I don't recall the other sites, but there are similar for the other branches.
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Old 02-16-2013, 8:05 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tanksoldier View Post
If you want to fly fighters, AF or Navy.

If you want to fly helicopters, Army or Marine Corps.

Yes, I know that it's technically true you can fly any of them in any of the services (even the Army has jet aircraft, just not combat jets)... but I'm speaking of teh relative importance of the aircraft to the service.
You do realize there are over 400 Tactical Fighter/Attack aircraft in the Marine Corps? That their primary mission is Close Air Support for the MAGTF? Lots of Jet slots in the Corps.

Like I said before talk to an OSO, as others have linked air warriors is a great resource.
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Old 02-17-2013, 10:37 PM
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http://www.airforceots.com/
http://www.armyocs.org/
http://www.armyocsng.com/
http://www.coastguardocs.org/
http://www.marineocs.com/
http://www.navyocs.org/

Those are sites run by the OCS Foundation, not the official sites. You should be able to get unbiased info there. Some of the sites are more active and current than others.
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Old 02-18-2013, 12:32 AM
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*daggers from eyes*

If you make it into the seat of a military aircraft, you'd better thank God. If you make it home in one piece after every mission, you'd better treat your maintainers like gods.



On a serious note, best of luck to you. I dreamed of flinging a blowtorch strapped to a lawn dart around the sky as a kid. I never had the willpower to stick with college, so now I fix what pilots break instead.
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Old 02-19-2013, 6:19 PM
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Best way ("easiest" for the AF) is join ROTC, maintain a 3.5+ and get 100 on the PFA, then you apply for a rated slot and have the best shot at getting one...
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Old 02-19-2013, 6:40 PM
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Here're a couple of good places to ask some questions:

Baseops Forums (mostly USAF)

Air Warriors (mostly USN/USMC)
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Old 02-19-2013, 9:44 PM
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Don't forget your age. I don't know how old you are but I'm a prior Army Reservist and joined the Guard so I can put in an application to become a warrant officer and fly helos. I was 28 when I joined and didn't finish my Flight Physical until I was 31 because I had 20/150 vision so I went and got LASIKS and have 20/15 vision now (out of my own pocket I might add). My battalion commander let me know a month ago that I won't be given an age waiver because the need for pilots isn't enough currently. It is VERY competative and they only choose the best of the best to go to flight school because they don't want you messing up and getting sent back because it costs the State a lot of $$$$ to send someone there.

To become a warrant officer helicopter pilot you need to be 32 or younger and if you are between 28 and 32 you need an age waiver. It also helps a lot to know aviators in your chain of command, that I didn't have because I am commo.

Now I don't what want to do, I don't want to get stuck doing commo forever, I don't even do anything pertaining to my MOS in my unit as well. I am thinking about reclasses to a 15W which is an UAV operator but there aren't any of those close to where I am. Also thought of the air guard or AF and they're max age is 30 I believe.
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Old 02-20-2013, 9:52 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GunnerB View Post
You do realize there are over 400 Tactical Fighter/Attack aircraft in the Marine Corps? That their primary mission is Close Air Support for the MAGTF? Lots of Jet slots in the Corps.
Yep, in the USMC combat jets and helicopters have about equal prestige... which was the point I was trying to make and may have missed.

Nobody wants to be fixed-wing in the Army, it's all about flying combat or at worst transport helicopters. In the AF everybody wants to be fixed wing and the chopper drivers are mostly considered 3rd class citizens.

The Army STILL has the best option with the aviation warrant officer enlistment option.
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Old 02-28-2013, 1:11 AM
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Lots of wrong information in here. I'm a boom operator on the KC-10 so I work VERY closely with pilots. Every single one of them is an Academy or ROTC graduate. It's a must have. Get your commission, take the appropriate tests, and if by chance you get a flying slot the battle is far from over. They'll start you in a Cessna (forget the name of it), and when you have the basics down you'll graduate to the T-6. There you will learn how to do acrobatics and formation flying, all with an obscene amount of ground school.

From there, depending on your final test, you'll get slotted for fighter type, refueling/airlift type, propeller type, or rotary wing type. You'll go to the respective trainer aircraft for that type, obviously highest in the class gets first dibs. Fighters go to the T-38, refueling/airlift goes to the T-1, prop goes to a King Air (also forget the name), and Helos go to UH-1s.

You'll learn in that plane, and take yet another final test to determine specific airframe. 95% of pilots in training get refueling/airlift because two pilots are always needed and we have a ton of heavy aircraft. It's about a year and a half to get your wings and type of plane you'll be flying.
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Old 03-06-2013, 8:57 PM
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I'm setting up my packet for WOFT right now. Still lots to do.

I want to fly either the Apache or the Kiowa Warrior the most. Probably not a lot of spots for those though. Mostly Blackhawks and Chinooks.
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  #34  
Old 03-10-2013, 5:48 PM
0150r 0150r is offline
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Lots of wrong information in here. I'm a boom operator on the KC-10 so I work VERY closely with pilots. Every single one of them is an Academy or ROTC graduate. It's a must have. Get your commission, take the appropriate tests, and if by chance you get a flying slot the battle is far from over.
Lot's of wrong information in your post too. Army has line officers and WO's flying helos. As for line officer billets, there is OCS/OTS as well.

OP: please seek advice from the links posted above and get advice from people who have actually been there an done that.
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  #35  
Old 03-10-2013, 7:22 PM
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Originally Posted by 0150r View Post
Lot's of wrong information in your post too. Army has line officers and WO's flying helos. As for line officer billets, there is OCS/OTS as well.

OP: please seek advice from the links posted above and get advice from people who have actually been there an done that.
Speaking purely from my experience, which is all Air Force. I don't know jack **** about other branches. But I did know I could be a Helo pilot with no degree in the Army as a WO.
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  #36  
Old 03-15-2013, 2:45 PM
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Like Gunner B said, talk to an Officer Selection Officer, a regular recruiter will promise you almost anything to get you to sign up and will likely tell you something along the lines of that you go in enlisted, do a couple of years and after that you'll be flying. If you want a pretty much guaranteed slot at flight school do not talk to a recruiter.

As for the Academy route, it's helpful but not necessary, not all pilots are Academy grads although the Air Force probably has the most followed by the Navy. Being an Academy grad is generally regarded as a precursor to a successful career as a military officer but you can succeed without having a ring and it's a lot less important in the Marine Corps and probably in Army aviation too.

When deciding on a branch I'd research each, what their missions are, and their history so you can decide which one appeals to you the most based on either what they do or their history. For instance, Naval aviation is primarily about defending and supporting the fleet with CAS missions occasionally. Marine Corps aviation is all about supporting the MAGTF and the Marines on the ground, engaging the bad guy is secondary to dropping bombs for the grunts.
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